NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 49 (April 9, 2009) |
*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)
North Korea Warns Japan on Rocket Interception
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's military warned on April 2 it would attack "major targets" in Japan should Tokyo shoot down its satellite.
The threat came as the leaders of South Korea, the United States and Japan met at the G-20 summit in London, with North Korea's rocket launch high on the agenda of their bilateral talks.
"It is the Japanese reactionaries, the sworn enemy of the Korean people, who are perpetrating the most evil doings over the DPRK (North Korea)'s projected satellite launch for peaceful purposes," North Korea's military said, using the acronym for the country's official name.
The report was carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
"If Japan recklessly 'intercepts' the DPRK (North Korea)'s satellite for peaceful purposes, the Korean People's Army will mercilessly deal deadly blows not only at the already deployed intercepting means but at major targets," the KCNA said.
Warships capable of tracking and intercepting the North Korean rocket have been deployed to waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. Washington and Tokyo had earlier hinted at a possible interception, but later said they would not do so unless the rocket threatened their territory.
North Korea warned of strong measures if its launch were referred to the U.N. Security Council, saying it may quit the six-party talks on its nuclear disarmament. Pyongyang also said it would interpret South Korea's full membership into the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative as a "declaration of war."
The initiative is a multilateral effort to stem the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction.
North Korea said it had sent notices on March 21 barring access to its airspace during the launch period to civil aviation authorities in the U.S., Japan, Russia, China, Switzerland and South Korea.
"However, only Japan is making much ado as if something serious had happened, finding fault with even the DPRK's above-said advance notice and terming the launch of Kwangmyongsong-2, the DPRK's experimental communications satellite for peaceful purposes, a 'hostile act,'" it said.
The statement also urged the U.S. to "immediately withdraw its already deployed armed forces" and told South Korea to stop "disturbing the said launch."
Kim Lauds 'Successful' Rocket Launch, but Photos Tell Different Story
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il watched the country's rocket launch at a command center and celebrated the "successful" orbiting of a satellite, the North's state media said on April 6, but photos showed him expressionless and tight-lipped.
North Korea claims its communications satellite, Kwangmyongsong-2, made it into orbit on April 5, contradicting outside monitoring sources who say it fell into the Pacific Ocean.
The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Kim watched the satellite launch at the General Satellite Control Command Center and lauded scientists for their success.
"It is a striking demonstration ... that our scientists and technicians developed both the multistage carrier rocket and the satellite with their own wisdom and technology 100 percent and accurately put the satellite into orbit at one go," Kim was quoted as saying by the KCNA.
But photos released by the KCNA showed a straight-faced Kim, sporting a silver parka and his trademark sunglasses, and posing with young scientists and senior party officials who were equally expressionless.
The report did not say where the satellite command center is located..
South Korea and the U.S. said the first booster of the three-stage carrier rocket fell into the East Sea lying between Korea and Japan, while the second and third stages fell into the Pacific Ocean.
Kim also stressed "the need to bring about a new turn in conquering outer space and making peaceful use of it," the report said.
N. Korean Media Claims Foreign Backing for Satellite Launch
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's state news agency said on April 5 that it has the full backing of foreign powers for its satellite launch and criticized U.S. moves against it, before giving any word on the status of the launch itself.
North Korea fired what it has called is a communications satellite at 11:30 a.m. local time Sunday from a launch pad on its northeastern coast, according to government officials in South Korea and other neighboring countries.
In an English-language dispatch that came about three hours after the launch, North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, "The DPRK (North Korea)'s projected satellite launch for peaceful purposes has been supported by political parties and organizations in different countries," using the acronym for its official name.
The report, published in Korean earlier, made no mention of the launch taking place.
The North Korean report quoted several supportive statements that it said were issued by foreign groups ahead of the launch, including the "Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union," which "expressed deep apprehension over the reckless moves being made by the United States and its followers to hinder the launch" in a statement on March 31.
The Russian statement echoed North Korea's claim that any U.N. moves to punish the launch will violate a nuclear disarmament accord on the "spirit of mutual respect and equality." The accord refers to a landmark 2005 accord reached by the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia to end North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
North Korea Hopes to Launch More Satellites: Report
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea hopes to launch more satellites to boost its economy, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan said on April 6, a day after the Stalinist nation fired a rocket that experts say could have carried a missile.
The April 5 launch of what Pyongyang calls an experimental communications satellite, Kwangmyongsong-2, was the opening stage of a larger plan to send various practical satellites into orbit in the future, said Choson Sinbo, which typically conveys North Korea's official position.
The report, published by ethnic Koreans in Japan, described the launch as "productive" and "historic," but did not say if it was successful as North Korea claims.
The North's state media said the satellite launched from the country's east coast and is now in orbit, while outside monitors concluded the rocket's final stages fell into the Pacific Ocean and never entered space.
"North Korea is preparing to launch practical satellites for the purpose of communications, exploration of natural resources and weather forecasting, which are essential for the country's economic development," Choson Sinbo said.
The paper featured an interview with the head of a North Korean national weather agency, Ko Sang-bok, who called the launch a "historic feat" that raised national morale and took the country closer to its foremost goal of becoming a powerful nation by 2012. The year is important for North Korea as the centennial of the birth of late President Kim Il-sung, father of current leader Kim Jong-il.
"Within the next few years, during which our country plans to launch a polar-orbiting meteorological satellite or a geostationary meteorological satellite, great progress will be achieved in the field of weather forecasting," Ko said, adding his country currently receives data from China and Russia.
"This experimental communications satellite launch is a front stage procedure toward launching a meteorological satellite and other practical satellites," he said.
Choson Sinbo said on April 5 that the launch will be a major boost for North Korea's 2012 economic campaign, paving the ground for rocket technology exports.
"North Korea's biggest agenda at this time is economic reconstruction. Large-scale rocket development is related to its citizens' livelihoods," the paper said, citing "a series of economic benefits" through civilian technology transfer and rocket sales.
N. Korean TV Airs First Image of Kim Jong-il After Reported Illness
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea televised the first footage of leader Kim Jong-il since his reported stroke last summer on April 7 along with images of its rocket launch, ahead of Kim's predicted reappointment as head of the country's military.
The state-run Korean Central TV Broadcasting Station showed what appeared to be a three-stage rocket blasting off from a launch pad for about 30 seconds, saying it put a communications satellite into orbit Sunday -- a claim disputed by outside monitors.
The footage followed an hour-long documentary on the North Korean leader, who will likely renew his political term in a parliamentary meeting on Thursday, analysts said.
"The Kwangmyongsong-2 satellite has been successfully launched," an anchor said over images of the satellite command center and the launch. The Unha-2 rocket bore the word Joson, the name of the last Korean dynasty, sometimes used by North Korea when referring to itself.
Kim is expected to be reappointed as chairman of the National Defense Commission, the highest decision-making body, which oversees the country's million-man army. Seoul officials compare his reappointment to the inauguration of a new government.
Before the rocket footage was aired at home, the North released it to APTN, the television network of the U.S.-based Associated Press, which has a branch in Pyongyang, in what might have been possible gesture to the U.S. government, which has called the launch "provocative."
Kim, 67, appeared less physically active and thinner in footage taken after his illness.
Images of Kim visiting hog and seedling farms Aug. 7-8, days before he allegedly suffered a stroke, show him walking briskly and using both hands freely. The documentary then jumps to November, after which there are no images of him walking.
During a trip to a machinery plant and a nearby soap factory on Nov. 24, Kim has his left hand hidden in his pocket.
But he appeared to be gradually recuperating. During a field trip to a renovated zoo on Dec. 1, Kim takes a couple of steps while clutching a handrail. He also lifts his left hand up to his chest during a visit to a folk village on Dec. 11 and claps his hands to applaud a national choir on Dec. 19.
North Korea Warns Japan against Searching for Rocket Debris
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's military warned Japan on April 8 against trying to locate debris from its long-range rocket, saying mobilizing combat ships for the search would be a military provocation.
The General Staff of the North's Korean People's Army (KPA) also sneered at Japan's erroneous report that the North had fired the rocket on April 4, a day before the actual launch.
The first-phase booster of North Korea's three-stage rocket is believed to have falled into the East Sea. The Japanese government was reportedly considering salvaging parts of the rocket to assess the North's ballistic technology.
"This is a vicious act of espionage and interference in the internal affairs of the DPRK (North Korea) and an intolerable military provocative act of infringing upon its sovereignty," the North Korean military said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
The search is "a ridiculous and foolish ploy to improve (Japan's) tarnished image even a bit," the KCNA said.
The statement reasserted Pyongyang's claim that the Unha-2 rocket put a communications satellite, the Kwangmyongsong-2, into orbit and that the whole world, except Japan, is rejoicing over the success.
North Korea says the launch is part of its peaceful space development program, while outside experts believe it was meant to test the North's long-range missile technology.
The KPA claimed support is increasing for Pyongyang "not only from various countries, but (also) from the U.N. forum," apparently referring to some U.N. Security Council members such as China and Russia, who oppose imposing new sanctions on the North for Sunday's launch.
The military also ridiculed Japan for issuing a false report, saying, "They provoked the laughter of the world people and suffered shame by releasing a false report that the DPRK (on Saturday) 'launched a satellite,' although it did not do it, obsessed by persecution mania."
Tokyo later said the error was caused by misread radar information.